Community centre project on Howard Estate awarded £670,000 from Government

Site of the old Howard Primary School'''PICTURE: Mecha Morton
Site of the old Howard Primary School'''PICTURE: Mecha Morton

A community-led scheme which will see a Bury St Edmunds community centre replaced has received a £670,000 grant from the Government.

The Government last week announced its support of the plans, which will also generate funds to spend on local schools and provide new homes in Bury St Edmunds.

Newbury Community Centre

Newbury Community Centre

The former Howard Primary School and Newbury Community Centre, in St Olaves Road, on the Howard Estate will be redeveloped under the scheme, with the money going towards demolition costs and speeding up the delivery of new homes on the council-owned site.

Barbara Bannister, from the Newbury Community Association, which is leading on the project said: “This is brilliant news for the local community. This is a major step towards delivering on our ambitions for a modern day community centre shaped to the needs of our local residents, as well as more affordable homes in the area.”

The grant, from the One Public Estate programme’s Land Release Fund, was awarded to Suffolk County Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council following a joint bid for that amount.

Cllr Paul Hopfensperger, St Edmundsbury ward member for the area, said: “I’ve been delighted to have been involved with this from the start. The community shaped the project through two stages of public consultation. This successful funding bid means that we can now get on with delivering these much need facilities.”

Cllr Robin Millar, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for families and communities said: “Our role is about helping communities help themselves and this project and all the work that has gone into it is a great example of that. The Land Release Fund aims to support building strong communities, and this is a key milestone towards helping them achieve their ambitions.”

The project already has outline permission for a new community centre and 79 new homes. Following the funding decision, the NCA, supported by the two councils, will seek a developer partner who will in turn submit a planning application for detailed consent.

Cllr Robert Everitt, who represents the estate on Suffolk County Council, said: “The aim of the two councils has always been to help support the NCA toward achieving its ambitions and the scheme has gained wide community support. This was recognised by the Government who not only awarded the full bid, but who also praised the community innovation, engagement and ambition in the project.”

Subject to planning permission being granted, work is expected to start on site within the next year.